In a post on the New England New State Movement Face Book page, Paul Barratt reminded me of one of his past posts - Booloominbah. Pauls' post reminds us that the things that make New England special were not created by the governments in Sydney or Canberra acting in the state or national interest, but by the actions of individuals. David Drummond cared.
If New England is to grow or even survive over coming decades, it will be because we as individuals care. And care we must. Without that, there will be nothing left of those things that make New England New England.
I know that I struggle sometimes to keep the faith. I struggle more to actually deliver in the sometimes turmoil of my personal life. Yet as I study our history, I am reminded every day about people, about individuals. Often imperfect, even sometimes unpleasant, their efforts built what we inherited.
Today, our history is turned too, at best, a footnote. Yet that history is of national and even international importance. Sound extreme, even grandiose? Well, consider this.
Without the new state agitation, we wouldn't have had a university in Armidale. Without that, we wouldn't have had the academic work on all aspects of New England life. Sure, many UNE academics now play modern games and have forgotten their broad regional past, as has the university itself. But think about prehistorian Isabel McBryde.
The citation for her award in 2003 of the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology justly summarised her work this way:
Her work in New England was remarkable for its extent and depth, and Isabel's examination of the interface of archaeology and ethnography in the region shaped not only the approach taken by many later researchers but also prepared the basis for the arguments about upland regions created by archaeologists such as Sandra Bowdler and Luke Godwin.
That's not a small tribute. And it wouldn't have happened if those of us who cared in the past and now hadn't cared.
Sometimes, our dream seem lost.
As clouds swirl around me, when things seem just so hard, I remind myself that we have a magnificent story to tell, that it is up to us to write the next page in our history.
This story will not be written by the big wigs or fat cats in Sydney or Canberra. It won't be told by prominent individuals. It will be told by thousands of people who care at their level within their constraints. It will be told by a Rod who cares about New England geology, by a Lynne who documents New England life and who cares about Bellingen hospital, by a Janene whose friends don't understand why she wants to work for a local newspaper, by a Paul who retains his links even though the world has taken him far away, by a Greg or Mark who try to keep the new state dream alive.
We care. We count. Individually, we don't matter. We can be forgotten, ignored. Collectively, we will change things. Forget us at your risk, for we are not going away. You won't see what we do unless you look; both local and social media interactions continue below the horizon. Yet the interaction goes on.
And the photo? This shows a New England archaeologists, in this case me, up a tree!